"Angry Birds" maker eyes Hong Kong IPO
HELSINKI (Reuters) - The company which created "Angry Birds," the world's most popular computer game, is considering a stock market flotation in Hong Kong, joining the many foreign firms who have gone public there.
"In Asia there are growing markets -- the people and the money," Peter Vesterbacka, marketing chief of Finnish company Rovio, told Reuters.
Finnish weekly Tekniikka&Talous reported on Friday the firm was looking at 2013 for the IPO but Vesterbacka said no decision had been made.
Other large global firms to have gone public on the Hong Kong exchange include fashion house Prada, luggage maker Samsonite and cosmetics maker L'Occitane.
Companies benefit from access to high liquidity from Chinese pension funds and retail investors and the bourse offers higher valuations in some sectors.
Rovio might also go to New York for the IPO.
In May Rovio Chief Executive Mikael Hed told Reuters the firm was aiming for a stock market listing in 2-3 years time in New York, which is seen as the key market for technology start-ups due to its dedicated investors.
"Angry Birds," in which players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds' eggs, has stayed top game since it was launched for Apple's iPhone in 2009.
Vesterbacka told Tekniikka&Talous the aim is to build the company into a media giant with a market capitalization similar to Walt Disney Co, which is valued at $65.3 billion.
"That is the target. There is no reason why we should not be able to build a company of that size," Vesterbacka was quoted as saying, adding Rovio's 2011 revenues would be around $100 million, compared with $10 million a year before.
The weekly said estimates of Rovio's value range from 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) to 7 billion euros ($9.1 billion).
It has reached a record 600 million downloads in two years, compared with rival Electronic Arts' hit game Tetris which reached 100 million mobile downloads last year.
Rovio has unveiled two more "Angry Birds" games and Vesterbacka told the paper the firm would launch 5-6 more games with the same characters in 2012.
Rovio is also expanding its brand to toys and playgrounds, and is taking the birds to the big screen.
Vesterbacka told the weekly the first full-motion animated movie featuring the characters was still 2-3 years away.
Earlier this year, Rovio raised $42 million from venture capital firms including Accel Partners, which previously backed Facebook and Baidu, and Skype founder Niklas Zennstroem's venture capital firm Atomico Ventures.
Rovio was founded in 2003 after three students including Niklas Hed -- CEO Mikael Hed's cousin and now Rovio's COO -- won a game-development competition sponsored by Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia Oyj and Hewlett-Packard CO.
($1 = 0.7694 euros)
(Additional reporting by Elzio Barreto in Hong Kong; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and David Cowell)